The 10-Minute Rule

A survival technique inspired by crap films

I was overseas and living alone when A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001) popped up on TV one night. I had a hunch it wasn’t my kind of flick early on, but I persevered because:

a) I didn't have anything better to do
b) a lot of people had said the movie was great.

I wish I’d followed my gut instinct and skipped it.

I immediately hated the kid playing the lead. He had the most punchable face, and his dippy haircut and dopey expression made me want to pull him through the TV screen and break his spine over my knee. I know it’s wrong and unfair to judge anyone by their appearance, but I don't care.

A.I. seemed to go on for a very, very long time - much longer than seemed necessary. There’s a scene, for example, where the kid gets stuck in a little submersible on the bottom of the ocean. I actually thought that was the end of the movie. And let me just say that although I wasn't happy about sacrificing 90 minutes of my life for what I'd just seen, I was at least grateful that I could finally go to bed. So I stood up and waited for the credits to roll...

But alas. The movie wasn’t over!

Grumbling, I sat back down in front of the TV and watched in disbelief as that fucking kid continued to dick around on the sea floor and discovered weird robot aliens or some such bullshit. I huffed and puffed in frustration and boredom as the saga rolled on, but I figured that since I’d come this far I should at least finish what I’d started. I can’t really remember what that kid got up to next, but eventually something else happened that made me think the movie had finally finished. I sighed and got up. Roll credits?

Nope. The movie still wasn’t over!

Back in front of the TV I sat, only now feeling genuinely hateful. Nothing that wretched kid did next was even remotely interesting or made any sense to me. I started yelling at the screen, demanding that the movie end! Eventually I got my way, but to this day I can't remember the conclusion because by that time I'd entered a kind of semi-catatonic state of emotional numbness in which I was looking at the TV without actually watching the movie. When the credits finally did roll, it was 1:30am and I was exhausted, bleary-eyed and really, really pissed off with both A.I. and myself.

Unfortunately, I had a very similar experience with Her (2013). I will not even begin to describe this particular movie because I hate it more than I can say.

I was also badly stung by Prisoners (2013). If you haven’t seen it, don’t. It's the absolute fucking worst, and I don't have the wherewithal to talk about it. Let's just say that I'd rather sit through A.I. 3 more times than ever watch this film again.

Right. Enough. The  moral here is that it’s better to cut your losses than watch garbage to the bitter end. This is the 10-Minute Rule in a nutshell. Here's how it works, exactly:

Give a movie (this works for TV shows as well, btw) 10 minutes of your time. If it fails to grab your attention by then, quit. Stop watching. DO NOT be tempted to give the show another 10 minutes, hoping it will pick up. It won't. You WILL be there until the credits roll and you WILL want to punch yourself in the face for being a sucker.

Also, and this is important: if you say or think 'Man, that's fucking stupid' at any point before or after the first 10 minutes, forget it. Stop watching. You'll be tempted to believe otherwise, but when shit starts rubbing you in the wrongest of ways, the wisest thing you can to do is call time.

Simply put, life is too short to put up with entertainment that doesn't actually entertain. There's a ton of great content to be had, so don't waste your time on anything that fails to make you happy.


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